It all began with a single invoice. Tommy Campbell was working at a shipping supply company when a potential customer gave him a competitor’s invoice and told him he would make the sale if he beat their prices. The interaction was straightforward, easy, and, most importantly, transparent.
So, Campbell created NickelCommerce—a marketplace that’s focused on cost-effectiveness through disclosed pricing.
The idea for the startup originated in 2016, with an official launch happening in 2017. Since, Campbell has managed to grow the Dallas-based company without a second job or any prior startup experience. Campbell’s Master’s in Economics and degree in management were the only semi-related knowledge he had, so he brought on Rory Arredondo, a friend since high school with a background in electrical engineering and finance, to help manage the business and act as a co-founder.
The two-man team built NickelCommerce from the ground up, having to day-by-day things like how to start a business and code. Without any outside funding, the platform already has 70 customers and hopes to reach a milestone of 100 signups soon.
Since NickelCommerce is rapidly expanding, it is wanting to start fundraising within the next six months. The company is currently working with locals in the food and beverage industry, but the co-founders are also looking to flourish in other sectors, such as medical and dental offices.
How it works
This data-driven platform places transparency at the forefront. If buyers don’t openly share how much they pay for inventory, suppliers are able to charge different prices for the same items without ever disclosing them. NickelCommerce seeks to remove the suppliers’ ability to widely vary costs by creating a “buyer-lead system.”
For $50 a month per location, buyers can sign up to NickelCommerce, snap pictures of their invoices, and the platform handles the rest. A buyer’s purchases are itemized on the NickelCommerce platform, which allows for the tracking of cost changes and awareness on whether or not overcharging is taking place.
Prices that similar businesses are getting from the same supplier are open for anyone to see, with the names of the businesses kept anonymous to protect vital company information, such as secret recipes.
“It’s bringing the power back to the buyers and the smaller restaurants, the people who really need it the most who may not have the buying power,” Arredondo says.
But, suppliers can benefit from NickelCommerce, too. By paying $250 a month, suppliers can view the platform’s database and offer better deals to buyers, which the co-founders say is “essentially turning the business world on its head.”
Although the startup is relatively new, it has already managed to gain traction with smaller retailers. One buyer was able to find out that they were gradually paying more for eggs from a supplier. Once they confronted the supplier about it, they witnessed a major decline in their egg pricing.
“The reason why we’re trying to make everything transparent is because we feel like that’s how it should be,” Campbell says. “It benefits the most people if it’s transparent.”
Campbell and Arredondo have been working to go above and beyond for their customers, like sending individualized weekly emails to buyers that alert them to money-saving data, notifying them about price increases, and recommending what products they should switch to instead. Already, upon seeing the NickelCommerce platform, buyers have been shocked to learn their suppliers are unnecessarily raising their costs.
NickelCommerce is thinking local for now, but the co-founders believe that their business is scalable, with calls for expansion already coming from Utah, California, and even Canada. If the company continues to expand with additional funding, the marketplace is looking to become transparent for all—in Dallas, and beyond.
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